The Feeling File: An Unconventional Market Research Technique to Help You Write High-Converting Copy

If you’re looking to write great copy, there’s one element you can’t afford to ignore.


That’s why the saying goes…

“People buy on emotion, then justify with logic.”

Of course, logic has its place.

But it’s our feelings that drive us to buy things.

Especially when we read an ad.

Now, how do you write an ad that makes someone FEEL something?

By doing your customer research.

You’ve got to go out to the subreddits and Facebook groups where they congregate…

Then study what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

Most people skip this step. Which is why they struggle to write ads that convert.

But here’s the funny thing…

When it comes to researching your audience, most people forget the easiest place to start is themselves.

You may not be in the exact same circumstances as the audience you’re writing to…

But chances are, you’ve probably felt some of the same feelings before.

Like greed.





And insecurity.

The circumstances that trigger these feelings may vary from person to person, but the feelings themselves are (somewhat) universal.

You and I have both felt them before.


Let me introduce you to an unconventional strategy I developed for writing great ads.

It’s called the Feeling File.

Introducing the Feeling File: An Unconventional Way to Do Market Research

The Feeling File is a database designed to collect two things:

1) Trigger moments

One of my favorite ways to write the “lead” of an ad is to use a trigger moment.

Trigger moments are what bring your feelings to the forefront.

Let’s say you’ve got a pile of credit card debt.

Most of the time, you do your best not to think about it…

But as you go through your day-to-day life, there are certain events that bring your financial insecurity to the surface.


  • Checking your bank statement
  • Being forced to cover a surprise expense
  • Your card’s tap function not working
  • Hearing others talk about their thriving investments

If you’re not in debt or suffering from this type of financial insecurity, it’s hard to imagine how emotionally charged these moments can be.

But for anyone who is, they’re impossible to ignore.

That’s why building up a database of trigger moments that activate specific emotions can be so powerful for writing ads.

2) Vivid emotional descriptions

The second part of the Feeling File is to write out detailed descriptions of what each emotion actually feels like.

You won’t always be able to use this kind of vivid language in your ads…

But digging deep helps you develop understanding…

So that when you’re looking to write an ad that moves someone to take action, you can really relate to them and how they feel.

Continuing with the example from above…

(and as someone who’s had a pile of credit card debt before)

I might describe it thusly:

“It feels like failure. Like I wasted my 20s playing video games and smoking weed while everyone else was working hard, saving money, and getting ahead. Like I lack discipline. As if I’m less of a man because I can’t provide financially for those around me. 

Like I’m unable to get a grip on my vices no matter how hard I try. 

Like I’ll never live up to my full potential because I don’t have the strength to overcome this one challenge that everyone else is capable of conquering. As if other people see me as reckless, irresponsible, and lacking in judgement. 

Like I’ll never be able to live life on my terms or experience true freedom. Like I’m destined for a lifetime of regret because I could never get my finances in order.”

As you can see, each sentence starts with “like” or “as if.”

That’s the key to unpacking the emotion.

And you just keep going and going and going until you feel like there’s nothing more coming out.

Now, let’s pretend I’ve just been hired to write an ad for a course on financial planning…

Or an accountant…

Can you imagine how helpful this description would be?

It would allow me to connect to the emotional state of my target in a much more direct way.

Now let’s talk about it…

How to Create Your Own
Feeling File

It’s simple, really.

Because I’ve gone ahead and started one for you.

It includes…

1) Feeling File Spreadsheet

Use this to track all your individual Feeling File entries.

2) Feeling File Entry Template

Fill one of these out for as many feelings as you want or can think of.

(I just add to mine as I go.)

Make sense?

To save both of these files to your own Google Drive, click on the links above and then hit File > Make a copy. 

Then choose which folder you’d like to save them to.

That’s it!

Now go off and use these newfound insights to write some great ads.

– jh

About Jim Hamilton

Copywriter, media buyer, and marketing consultant since 2016. Managed $1M+ in Facebook ad spend. Generated $3M+ in sales. I teach people how to create profitable marketing campaigns.

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